THE FACTS: Damian Lillard had the Utah Jazz hanging on for dear life, but the league's top rookie couldn't dig the Portland Trail Blazers out of a massive hole.
The Utah Jazz survived a spectacular second half by Lillard and hung on for an 86-77 victory over the Portland on Friday night. Al Jefferson had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help the Jazz overcome Lillard's 26 points.
Paul Millsap had 15 points for the Jazz, who have defeated the Trail Blazers five straight times and won for the eighth time in their last nine home games. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Portland.
The two teams play again on Saturday night, but the Trail Blazers could be shorthanded as both starter Wesley Matthews and reserve Ronnie Price left Friday's game with right ankle injuries. Both players are former Jazzmen.
QUOTABLE: "I think we pretty much controlled the whole game. They made a little run. We knew before long they were going to do that. I think we responded well. We had to adjust to their offense because they have a shooting big and that's different for us. I thought we adjusted pretty well and got stops when we needed. As long as we keep doing that we will keep continuing to get better."
-- Al Jefferson
THE STAT: Portland's glaring lack of depth was magnified in its loss. The Trail Blazers' bench was outscored 28-10. Portland's reserves scored just two points in the fourth quarter while shooting 1-for-6. The Jazz, meanwhile, got a lift from DeMarre Carroll, who outscored the Portland bench by himself. He had 13 points. Derrick Favors was also solid for Utah with seven points, 12 rebounds and a blocked shot.
TURNING POINT: The Jazz took control of the game by playing stifling defense, forcing Portland to play catch-up the rest of the way. They took the lead for good in the first quarter by going on an 11-0 run during which the Trail Blazers missed 11 straight shots. That run put Utah ahead 25-17, and it later built a 17-point lead in the second quarter. The Jazz disrupted the Trail Blazers' timing throughout the first half and continuously contested shots. During a 15-minute stretch bridged by the first and second quarters, Portland missed 24 of 28 shot attempts. It saw a 17-14 lead turn into a 44-29 disadvantage during its cold spell.
HOT: The Jazz had one of their best offensive halves in the last few weeks in the first half. Utah scored 51 points and shot 61.1 percent in the first half. The Jazz shared the ball and made extra passes to get good looks. They pounded the ball inside, scoring 32 points in the paint in the first half. Jefferson, Millsap and Marvin Williams combined to shoot 15-for-20 in the first half. Millsap had 13 of his 15 points in the first half. Williams only scored eight points, but he shot 4-for-6 and played tight defense during his 27 minutes of playing time.
NOT: Portland was within striking distance of the Jazz in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get over the hump. Luke Babbitt missed three open looks at 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. The Trail Blazers trailed by eight after his last miss and he was pulled from the game shortly thereafter. Aldridge had an and-one opportunity with Portland down 78-72, but he missed his free throw to prevent the Trail Blazers from getting closer. On Portland's next two possessions, he had a turnover and missed a layup. For the Jazz, Randy Foye had a brilliant stretch where he made four 3-pointers in the third quarter. But those were all the baskets he made in an otherwise subpar shooting outing. He shot 4-for-17 and finished with 14 points.
QUOTABLE II: "It's one of those times where we put ourselves in a hole and we fought so hard to get back that I think we ran out of gas when it was time to turn it up again. So it was more of us putting ourselves in that position, so we got to do a better job of playing four quarters."
-- Damian Lillard
GOOD MOVE: Lillard must have realized his Utah counterparts at point guard -- Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson --- are nearly old enough to be his father, or at least a respected uncle. He attacked throughout the second half, scoring 20 of his 26 points while making seven of his last 11 shot attempts. He was comfortable and efficient in running the pick-and-roll and his jumper was mostly deadly after halftime.
BAD MOVE: The difference between the Jazz offense in the first half and the second half was marked. The efficient first-half offense was nowhere to be found after halftime, and especially in the fourth quarter. Utah played tentatively on offense, didn't attack and didn't share the ball. The Jazz had just one assist on five made baskets in the fourth quarter, and the dismal offensive execution nearly cost them the game. They went 5:32 without scoring a basket during a stretch in the fourth quarter.
NOTABLE: Matthews and Price were both limping in the team's locker room following Friday's game. Their status is listed as day-to-day. Gordon Hayward sat out his third straight game with a right shoulder strain. He will travel to Portland with the Jazz, but is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game. Watson left Friday's game with a sore lower right leg. He will get an MRI early Saturday, and then join the team in Portland.
UP NEXT: For the Trail Blazers, Saturday vs. Utah, Monday @ Minnesota, Wednesday @ Dallas. For the Jazz, Saturday @ Portland, Monday vs. Sacramento, Wednesday vs. Milwaukee.